Regardless, the theme of this training cycle seems to be "It's not 2016 anymore, Kim." Boston is a totally different race than Revel, so it only makes sense I would need a unique and tailored path. New isn't bad, but change is hard. Thankfully, I'm really enjoying a lot of these new experiences in my life...
...which leads me to my favorite three elements about this training cycle, in no particular order:
What the Hill?
Hills, hills, and hills! I don't think I ran UP a single hill in 2016; I spent most of my time headed down the mountain, ripping up my quads with all of that eccentric movement. Each thigh literally grew an entire inch per leg over the course of twelve weeks, and then post-race, swelled to Hulk-like proportions. Needless to say, it's a relief to go up! Sure, hills are more taxing and my pace drops considerably, but I don't have to deal with that cringe-inducing muscle soreness (DOMS) post-workout; other than a little fatigue, I've had no soreness whatsoever.
Running up hills are quickly becoming my favorite go-to workout for any number of reasons...they are a total butt-kicker, literally and figuratively. There is no "easy" way to run hills. It forces you to concentrate on good form, drive forward, and use your arms. I always forget I have arms. Almost six years in, you'd think I'd remember. But hills help jog* the old memory.
Going up, hills make you feel like you are dying and/or you picked the wrong sport. But once you get to the top? Soak in the glory of your accomplishment, that amazing view, and the fun elevation profiles.
Viva la hills!
I started taking classic Pilates lessons back in 2014 to prepare me for the Summerlin Half Marathon. I stopped in mid-2015, right around the time I cut my arms. I was overtraining (hmm...sensing a theme here) and had to cut something out of my workout schedule. It was devastating to say good-bye to The Pilates Firm, but I knew I'd be back.
When I returned this year, it was mainly because of lower back pain. I'm a "huncher," for sure; my shoulders like to dip inward and take my neck and head with them. Juliet and her team got right to work, cracking my back open and pushing my shoulders down. They also taught my sweet little introverted muscles, like hip flexors, to speak up, while silencing the more extroverted muscle groups. My quads are definitely the life of the party, but even they need a break.
The result? A super tight core, slower-to-fatigue muscles, and better body awareness. Running can sometimes be a fight to finish, a knock-down, drag-out ugly mess. Pilates makes me feel refined. Graceful. Even as I sweat and groan on my mat.
I mentioned Johnny in the last few blog posts and he's been a great long run buddy. This past weekend, I had my first 20 miler - and he had friends in town. Darn it! While I was initially disappointed he wouldn't be there, I also knew I had to get out there and practice my miles solo. After all, he's not coming to Boston unless I pack him in a very large suitcase.
While not with me in person, he was there in spirit. When I woke up outrageously early on Saturday morning, I checked my phone like I always do.
I found this.
Please note the times.
The texts continued all the way through breakfast and water drops. Every time I came back to my phone, there was another update. Casino, some craps ("Put it on black!" I encouraged. "Wrong game," he responded). Even a late-night/early-morning stop for food.
My four measly water drops ended up taking almost a full hour, primarily because I got lost twice. Not because of Johnny, but because of those darn Summerlin round-abouts. It's okay, I've only lived here for 15 years. I'll figure out North Hualapai one of these days. As the minutes ticked by, that familiar feeling of fear started to creep up my neck. The sunrise was only an hour away and the high today was 90 degrees. I need to start running now. But instead of panic, the sheer hilarity of Johnny's night calmed my nerves considerably. Didn't Christopher McDougall sum it up best in "Born to Run"? It's easy to get outside yourself when you're thinking about someone else.
It worked. I wasn't nervous at the start of my run, even though I should have been: ten minutes late, not 100% sure the waters were in the right places, and I was running a completely new route. The chance for disaster: high, particularly in light of a less-than-stellar 18-miler the weekend before. I faded hard on the last two miles of that run, and I still wasn't sure why. I did not want another bad run; it was time to build some running confidence.
Thankfully, once I started, that relaxed, silly feeling permeated most of my morning (Jack-in-the-Box? Really, Johnny?). It put my nerves at bay and allowed me to have a truly amazing first 20-miler. I arrived at Scotty's baseball game on time and all smiles. I mean, I didn't break any land-speed records, but I hit all of my goals: easy pace (<9:00 min/miles), stay on the route, and conquer two sets of 400+ climbs. The last big climb occurred in the very last part of my run, miles 16-20, which mimic Boston nicely. I trotted up those hills like no one's business and finished with plenty of gas in the tank.
Maybe, just maybe, this Boston thing is within reach...
I'm putting in the work. This is my fourth week in a row of 50+ miles.
This is the last stretch of big, meaty miles before the psychologically complicated-though physically necessary taper.
Boston is creeping up quickly...just over three weeks to go. THREE WEEKS!
I just cannot wait.